The three most important things I’ve already learned while not running a company
It’s been four and one half months since my former company began the process of dissolution. While the fallout will have an impact on my former employees, production providers, me and my family for some time to come, my day-to-day professional life is quite a bit different than it has been for many years. In thinking about the differences I’ve identified three of them that may not seem that large but combined together have helped me manage my own psyche during this unusual time in my professional career.
1) When you don’t have a regular and predictable income focus on making some cash
Sounds too simple right? But I’ve been very conscious of my own productivity especially in protecting myself from being active but not necessarily productive. I wrote about that this year and the post was admittedly a bit biographical. Being concerned about my own situation and not as concerned with the fates of my own team members has been liberating in a number of ways. It’s not that I’ve stopped caring about the people that used to work for me. I still do and will continue to try to help them in any way I can and expect that I am far from unique in that behavior.
While I am balancing what at times feels like ten different things at the same time (things like maintaining and leveraging longstanding personal relationships, building new contacts, looking for the right opportunities, just to name a few), I realize that winning a few assignments even if small is very important both for whatever cash they might throw off as well as having that feeling of winning. The feeling of winning should never be underappreciated. The cash is not flowing in quite yet but I’m a lot closer than I was back in July.
2) Leverage your new-found quickness.
Not having to pull the whole boat is like losing fifty pounds. It makes you so much quicker. There is flexibility in my schedule now that I’ve not experienced in many years. Being able to explore things that in the past I might have passed on due to personal time and resource constraints has taken me down paths I would have missed. Some of these paths have interesting potential and that’s both exciting and motivating. I will remember that and try to keep those paths open once things are more settled and ‘regular’.
Caution: To get the most out of your quickness you must be ultra-organized. If you have many balls in the air at the same time the last thing you can afford to do is drop one since you don’t necessarily know which of the opportunities might turn out to be the golden one.
3) Networking for new relationships is good but connecting and reconnecting with business associates is much more effective and a better use of your time.
If I’ve heard one thing from just about everyone it’s ‘tap into your network’. While I had that notion already the universality of that advice shows its power. In fact I’ve not yet had one person tell me to attend more networking events in order to meet new potential business partners and contacts. At the same time I receive countless offers to attend networking events in various industries. While there can be value in going to networking events to meet new people, the few that I have attended have been less than worthwhile when it comes to making new connections of any real value.
Since my time (and your time and everyone’s time) is so precious and valuable, the ROTI (return on time investment) has to be considered for everything I do. Meeting a friend, former colleague, or seeing someone that you’ve been personally referred to should be viewed as being much more valuable than attending a networking event where you may or may not know people. Ask yourself what you will be really getting out of a networking event. Spending one on one time with someone is almost always the better choice.
It’s a brave new world for me and there are a number of other things I’ve learned while not running a company. I’ll share more when I have had more time to assess the impact of those things. What’s become evident to me is that support of my family, friends and colleagues has been invaluable during this time of transition and I remain both optimistic and excited about the new and different opportunities that are coming my way. I know it won’t be easy but that’s ok, I never expected it to be easy.